Social Media engagement starts a cocktail-party style encounter amidst streams of clever quotes and cute critters.
You have a chance to say ‘hi’ with a smile, you may have a chance to chat, and sometimes there’s a click-through. Engaging followers on social involves learning the techniques of a specific type of charm.
When you meet people in person you have visual clues for engagement success. Everyone likes to hear that they look good, though it’s wise to avoid a loaded word like ‘beautiful’ because there are so many ways it can make someone uncomfortable.
Instead, use a less threatening comment like “that’s a great color.” Women are often susceptible to shoes, so wearing great shoes and commenting on great shoes both provide opportunities for interaction. Many people can respond comfortably if you ask how they came to be at your location – unless you’re sharing a police lineup.
Most loaded words and awkward situations in posts can be avoided with mindfulness. Intelligent writers may forget that followers could be intimidated by language or ideas. Does that mean you should dumb down your posts? Would changing your language to be more accessible to readers be dumbing down, or would it be giving your followers an opportunity to engage?
People like to feel successful.
Every time you give them an opportunity to succeed you are giving them a chance to feel good about engaging with you. As well as sharing quality information, invite your followers to engage with topics that they’ll find easy.
Sometimes it’s surprising what people find welcoming – I got a high response to a post that asked people their favorite flavor of Popsicle.
It can be just as surprising to discover what people may find uncomfortable. Often people will react to a trigger and withdraw, skipping past your post without even realizing they didn’t read it.
Subconscious programs that affect relationships have all sorts of hidden triggers. People may withdraw if they feel evaluated, judged, or if they feel there are unmeetable requirements.
How could a post contain unmeetable requirements?
Here’s a quick check to determine if you could inadvertently have an unmeetable requirement in a post: have you ever asked someone to do something that they did not complete the way you wanted it done?
Like most people, you’ve probably found yourself explaining something you thought was obvious (how could anyone think the kitchen was clean if the dishwasher wasn’t loaded) or found yourself describing how to do something that you learned by yourself (it’s not rocket science, you figured it out) or frustrated that a person didn’t understand a deadline (when the meeting is Wednesday, that means the slides have to be ready for Wednesday, why would you have to say that?)
Sometimes a person is confused because they don’t have all the information and context that’s in your head. Sometimes they’re confused because they have different values or ideas that cause them to draw different conclusions from the same information. Sometimes they don’t care about what you care about, and they aren’t going to give it the same attention, interest, or effort.
When you send a post into the stream you’re going to interact with all sorts of different perceptions. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your ability to give your followers a positive experience. It’s easy when you know how, and becomes part of your usual mindful awareness.
Does a post even have requirements?
Here are a few examples of requirements routinely included in posts:
Call to action
If your follower doesn’t feel ready to act you can avoid triggering withdrawal by offering more information and an opportunity, instead of a ‘buy now.’ Would you rather entice them towards a purchase or trigger withdrawal with an unmeetable requirement?
Links, videos and images
Double up your posts to ensure your followers can succeed. What if they’ve got a terrible data plan and avoid images? Maybe they use an app on their tablet that makes follow-through challenging. Share your post both with and without images to give your followers opportunities to engage.
Wait a minute, aren’t you supposed to offer quality information? Absolutely, and the best way to allow your followers to absorb new information is with pacing. New information is introducing something they don’t know, so it’s hard for them to feel successful. It could even contradict what they currently believe, which could feel as if you’ve called them wrong!
In order to avoid these triggers, use what they already know as a nonthreatening introduction before introducing the new information. With pacing you get to agree with them and give them something – two feel goods in one.
Build Your Tribe: When you allow your followers to succeed, you become a source of positive feelings
When you’re inviting followers into a tribe it’s important to provide clear requirements so they can feel they belong in your tribe.
If you’re looking for followers on a page called ‘Everybody who turned fifty in 2014’ then you’re made it crystal clear who belongs. Maybe you want all the followers you can get, so you don’t want to specify requirements. How would people know if they can belong to your tribe if they don’t know how to succeed? There’s a reason American presidents start speeches with “My fellow Americans.”
Unmeetable requirements trigger withdrawal. Meetable requirements give people a chance to feel successful.
What is a meetable requirement?
- are measurable
- have objective requirements definitions
- have an objectively defined finish line
A measurable requirement can be evaluated by both parties, and by an objective third party.
‘Do better’ is not a meetable requirement.
‘Finish the report before five pm today’ is a meetable requirement if the person has what they need to complete the report on time.
Check your posts to ensure any requirements, including language and tone, allow your follower to know if they are succeeding.
A requirement has an objective definition when a stranger can understand your meaning. Could a stranger understand ‘paint this red?’ It could be expensive to discover what red means to a stranger – or to someone you’ve worked with for four years.
I have to admit, sometimes the only way to spot the assumptions in a post is to ask someone else to read it! Another option is to train yourself to spot your assumptions by having a teenager, as they’re brilliant at demonstrating assumptions.
A finish line is a critical element for success. Have you ever had that feeling that your work is never ending? Never ending is definitely not a successful feeling! You and your followers will feel a lot better with finish lines that allow success and validation of your accomplishments.
Try it out: when you get to the end of this post, notice that you’ve achieved a task and learned something new and give yourself a pat on the back.
Give your followers a task they can finish by inviting them to comment, and a way to succeed by asking them what they know : I know I’ve had a good day because I’ve had an opportunity to provide these tips for Enticing Engagement. How could you know you’ve had a good day?
‘You never talk to me’ or ‘you don’t give me the information I need’ are unmeetable requirements for an employee, partner, parent or offspring.
When you’re rephrasing a requirement to allow your relationship to succeed, you’re avoiding sabotaging your own relationship. If you’re interested in a good relationship, it’s not just worth the effort – it’s essential.
Some people love a face to face discussion. Other people need an activity, and side by side interaction. Go for a walk instead of sitting in a meeting room, do a task which the other person feels competent doing together, go for a drive – all of these create an atmosphere that encourages comfortable conversation. Start a conversation with a topic that is comfortable for the other person to allow the flow to begin. Learn to come at topics sideways to avoid provoking threat reactions.
Often the biggest problem is that you have made assumptions that the information you want is obvious – it isn’t. Even in a workplace, a person can have different interests and priorities than you do. You may consider the schedule the top priority, and they may consider the quality of the result the top priority. Learning to motivate someone who has different priorities than you do is a valuable skill.